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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Treme ends at "Tipitina"

The third season of Treme comes to a close this week in "Tipitina," and with only an abbreviated run next year left before the series bows out forever, there is a lot of closure. It's been some time since the storm now, and everyone is trying to resume a normal life. This means that there are ups and downs, as most people experience, but the catastrophe figures less and less into the residents' every day lives.

Many of the characters are at great peaks, doing very well, having persevered, despite the odds. Toni (Melissa Leo) is probably the happiest. It has take her a long time to get over her husband, who killed himself in season one, but now she has a new romance with Terry Colson (David Morse), one of the few good cops in New Orleans, and even her daughter, Sofia (India Ennenga) can't complain about that. Add to this, Toni is close to getting movement on the case she's been working since just after Katrina, and she is in a great place.

Antoine (Wendell Pierce) is also doing well, but not in the way that he had expected. He has truly found teaching to be a rewarding experience, and through that, he has reconnected with music in ways that he didn't even consider before. He gets to devote himself to the craft, share it with others, and expand his own knowledge. He may not have made it professionally, but he is moving in that direction with a different bend.

That's not all. Sonny (Michiel Huisman) marries Linh (Hong Chau), Annie (Lucia Micarelli) puts out a hit record, Desiree (Phyllis Montana LeBlanc) brings attention to an important cause, and Davis (Steve Zahn) becomes a viral sensation, thanks to his friends.

All of this is inspiring. Hurricane Katrina was so devastating, it's a wonder that so many characters are doing so well only a few years later. This is the kind of stuff viewers hunger to see, triumphs over the worst that life has to offer, people managing to move on, and make something worthwhile of themselves. They probably won't stay on top forever, but seeing them reach these heights proves that working hard and diligently pays off. Some spirits cannot be broken.

Even LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) sort of belongs in the positive column. Her bar has been burned down, and the guy who wronged her goes free because of a hung jury. But the community rallies around her. She has supporters and people who care about her, as evidenced by the benefit concert conducted in her honor. She can't help but be a bit upbeat in "Tipitina," no matter what else is going on.

Actually, "Tipitina" brings together most of the main characters at LaDonna's party. Usually, their paths cross only rarely, and while Treme tells the stories of lots of individuals, their separate paths are not closely intertwined. Yet, choosing this particular occurrence to bring them all together is really cool, and I would definitely like to see more scenes like this before the series ends.

Now, that's not to say that everything is perfect, by any means. Albert (Clarke Peters) has cancer. Janette (Kim Dickens) thought she had her dream job, only to be railroaded by her business partner, who has different ideas about the restaurant. Davis' smash success comes because his pals wanted to help after seeing just how frustrated he had become with the music industry, and his inability to accomplish what he set out to do. Terry's department is hostile towards him because he stood up for justice, as several fellow officers' expense. None of these can be dismissed lightly.

However, the sun always comes out. Each of these characters have had good days and bad. They continue from those points, and they will have more ups and downs. Hopefully, with the final season looming, the last handful of episodes will see even more positive changes. But not everyone can live happily ever after; that only happens in fairy tales. Instead, Treme remains the story of a strong-willed population that doesn't lose hope. If we take that message to heart, it has done its job.

One quick concern: I am digging the vibe that has sprung up between LaDonna and Albert, but LaDonna's husband, Larry (Lance E. Nichols), is a good man. He does not deserve to be cheated on. I find myself hoping that LaDonna is only interested in Albert platonically, but that really doesn't seem to be the case. True, Larry doesn't always seem to understand LaDonna's suffering, while Albert can relate, but is that a good enough reason to break up a marriage?

Treme will return to HBO next year for a fourth, shortened, final season.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter! First published on TheTVKing

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